Plans for a medical school in the territory will be unveiled in detail this month, Premier Andrew promised during a press conference last week.
“This is a major accomplishment for our territory,” he said on May 26. “This medical school is projected to house as many as 200 students in the near future.”
However, he didn’t disclose much more information, stating that the matter falls under the portfolio of Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who is the minister responsible for education.
“I would state very clearly that by the end of June we would have all the details for the medical school,” Mr. Fahie stated.
Though the premier didn’t name the school last week, Cabinet recently approved a recommendation for Tiber Health Public Benefit Corporation to establish a medical school in the territory.
The corporation will be granted a provisional licence pending accreditation by the Ireland-based Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine, according to a summary of a May 12 Cabinet meeting provided by the Cabinet Office.
The for-profit corporation, whose main campus is located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is headed by Dr. David Lenihan, a Missouri chiropractor with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh. Tiber has satellite campuses in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in St. Louis, Missouri.
During a radio show on May 25, Dr. Wheatley said the US-based corporation’s application was vetted through the territory’s Higher Education Licensing Board and that an evaluation was carried out by a committee before being brought to the Cabinet for approval.
The school will seek to draw 50 students to start, Mr. Fahie said last week, adding that government is working to negotiate preferential rates for Virgin Islanders.
Mr. Fahie also touted the “economic spinoff ” he said medical school campuses would bring, including rented apartments and the purchasing or renting of vehicles.
“At the same time, we will have professionals teaching who will complement medical professionals here,” he said.
Those professionals can help train local health workers and assist in emergencies, he added.
According to the premier, other medical schools are interested in establishing campuses in the territory as well.
“We’ll see if we can safely have about three medical schools at the most operating at the BVI at the same time,” he said.
The schools would “operate in different disciplines and areas” without competing against one another or the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, he added.